How to Crate Train Golden Retriever at Night

How to Crate Train Golden Retriever at Night
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon5-10 Days
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

A Golden Retriever puppy curled up on your bed--what could be cuter? A 100-pound Retriever that spent the day swimming in a swamp, sprawled out in the middle of your bed on your new duvet...not so much!  

Training your Golden Retriever to sleep in a crate at night might be a better option, 'just saying! Having your Golden sleep in a crate at night has several advantages. Besides keeping your bed dog-free, it speeds up house training considerably, gets him accustomed to a crate that can later be used for addressing behavioral issues or traveling, and keeps your pup safe while you are sleeping--an unsupervised dog can chew on dangerous items like electrical cords or sharp objects, or get into food that will make him sick. Your Golden Retriever may not be too happy about the chosen sleeping location at first--your bed, after all, was pretty comfy--but there are several ways to make your Retriever's crate a favorite, safe place, for your dog. Dogs are, after all, “den” animals, and making your dog's crate his den gives him a safe place of his own to sleep quietly at night.

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Defining Tasks

In order to train your Golden Retriever to happily and quietly sleep in a crate at night, you need to make the crate a great place. This means never using it as a form of punishment. Although confining your dog to a crate may be required to keep him out of trouble, it should never be accompanied by punishment or yelling, which will create a negative association with the crate.  

The younger you start your Golden Retriever learning to use his crate at night, and to be comfortable with it, the easier it will be to establish it as a quiet retreat your dog is happy to use. You may want to include a verbal command to give your dog direction to get into his crate, such as “kennel up”, “bedtime”, “den” or “crate”. It is not uncommon, especially for young dogs, to cry or whine at night when left in their crates at first. After all, they would rather be snuggled up with you. It is important not to respond to crying, which will only reinforce it. Keep in mind that a puppy or young dog may need to go out for potty breaks in the middle of the night. To avoid having to respond to a crying dog that needs a bathroom break, schedule breaks before your dog starts to vocalize, that way he will not need to alert you, and won't have crying reinforced by being let out of his crate for a midnight romp in the yard.

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Getting Started

To make a crate comfy, you will want to line it with a blanket or towel. If you are using a wire crate instead of a hard-sided crate, you can put a blanket over the top to make it cozy and prevent drafts. Be sure that whatever crate you use, your Golden Retriever still has good airflow; one side should remain uncovered. Crates should be big enough for your Golden Retriever to stand up, turn around, and lie down in comfortably. If you buy a larger crate that will accommodate a young dog when they are full grown, you can partition off part of it when they are a puppy so it is not too spacious, which can give them an opportunity to pee in a corner away from where they sleep. To train your dog to be comfortable in his crate you may opt to remove the door at first, or tie it open so it does not close on your dog and startle him. Putting the crate in a warm location where your Golden can see you and the rest of the family and not feel isolated will meet with better success than putting the crate in an out-of-the-way location. If necessary, you can move the crate once your dog becomes used to it.

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The Puppy Training Method

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Add scent to a toy

When you pick up your Golden Retriever puppy, bring a stuffed toy and rub it all over his litter mates and mom. Place the stuffed toy in your dog's crate so that he has the familiar smell of his siblings and mom. You can also place a warm, heated item like a hot water bottle or a toy with a “heartbeat” available at pet supply stores. Make sure toys are dog safe, and cannot be chewed apart and swallowed.

2

Keep crate sessions short

Only place your Golden Retriever in his crate for a few hours at a time. Generally 1 hour for every 4 weeks of age is a guideline. A new 8-week old-puppy introduced to your home should not be confined for more than 2 hours to his crate.

3

Tire him out

Have a long play time or walk before crating at bedtime. Really wear your young Golden out so he is ready for rest and quiet time.

4

Let him out before bed

Feed your Golden Retriever at least an hour before bedtime, and withhold water for 30 minutes before bedtime. Let your puppy have a bathroom break immediately prior to crating at night, so he is able to hold it. A young dog may make it a few hours, while a mature dog will be able to make it until morning.

5

Provide bathroom breaks

Schedule bathroom breaks regularly during the night for young dogs so that you can give your dog an opportunity to relieve himself before he begins to cry or whine. This avoids reinforcing vocalizations. If your Golden Retriever starts to cry in the night and you suspect it is due to potty needs, take your dog immediately outside to do his business, and then immediately back to his crate to minimize disruption to his crate routine.

The Get Familiar Method

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Prepare the crate

Put your Golden Retriever’s crate in a busy area of the house, so he can see what is going on. At night, put the crate in your bedroom so he can see and hear you. Either tie the door open or remove it completely so that your dog is not startled by a closed door and feels trapped. Put a blanket inside the crate. Exercise or play with your Golden so he is in a relaxed, quiet mood ready for rest.

2

Provide treats

Put a treat at the entrance to the crate and sit down with your dog. Provide treats at the door and toss treats inside for him to fetch.

3

Keep your dog company

Ask your pup to 'crate up' and sit down next to him. Provide him treats while he sits or lies down in his crate, sit with him and watch TV or read a book, petting and praising him in the crate. If your Golden Retriever gets out of crate, ignore him. If he returns to the crate, give treats and affection.

4

Provide activity before bed

Before bedtime, take your Golden out for a potty break and lots of exercise and play, so he is tired and ready to relax. At bedtime, ask your Golden to go in his crate and close the door. Sit with him and talk to him until he settles in for the night. If he vocalizes, ignore him, if he sits quietly, talk to him and reassure him.

5

Ignore crying

During the night, ignore vocalizations unless you are sure your dog needs a potty break. Provide the potty break, but try to time it when your dog is not crying or whining. Ignore vocalizations--at first you may need to employ ear plugs or move to another room to get some sleep. Try to time training for a weekend or a day when you do not have work the next day so that you have more flexibility with your sleep schedule.

The Associate with Food Method

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Provide treats in the crate

Toss treats in your Golden's crate for him to retrieve.

2

Provide meals in the crate

Put your Golden Retriever's food dish next to the crate and feed him there for a few days. Say “Kennel up”. Move his dish into the crate and let him eat in the crate while you stand with him and talk to him.

3

Close the crate door

When your dog is comfortable eating in the crate, close the door while he is eating but remain with him, just outside the crate. Talk to him reassuringly. Repeat for a few days.

4

Provide crate time

After eating, leave your dog in the crate for a few minutes after each meal with the door closed. Gradually increase the time so he gets used to staying in the crate longer and longer.

5

Provide command and chew toys

Ask your Golden retriever to “Kennel up” , close the door, and provide him with a rawhide bone, pig ears or a Kong filled with peanut butter or canned dog food in his crate. Gradually increase the length of time he spends in his crate.

6

Start night time use

Once your Golden is accustomed to his crate, start using it at night. Give him exercise and a bathroom break first then ask him to “kennel up” and close him in his crate. Keep him company and give him praise at first for a few minutes. Ignore vocalizations in the night.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Casper

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Golden Retriever

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11 Weeks

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Hello, my wife and myself we got a Golden Retriever Puppy Male 02 weeks ago (when he was 09 years old) and we have been having very difficult times with the Puppy, even we are very frustrated and we don't how to solve the situation, The first week we put him into the crate to sleep and we did use during the day the motivation with treat to get inside the crate. The firts day he got inside and he was sleeping for 02 ours and after he started to cried and my wife she opened the door to let him to go out and do pee on puppy pads but after 02 days, my wife had to wait for him to fall sleep and some hours after he cried and the same situation were being repeating during the night and my wife was sleeping on the cough until one week later she got fed up of the situation. Then we started to leave him in the crate a night and my wife went back to bed and the puppy slept 05 hours, but the following night, 01 hour he felt asleep he start up to cry, bark and scratching the crate and our kids started to complain that they couldn't sleep and we waith for another 15 minutes and I went down and as soon as he heard my steps he stop of crying and barking and I did opened the door and I didn't sleep that night because he did the same to me, I had to wait for him until he felt sleep. Now we put him into our room but we are using a fence and puppy pads and he goes to the puppy pads during the night and in the morning i put him outside but now he lost the small progress of the pee and potting, everything is a chaos and we don't know what can we do, but we know that we are doing something wrong, also we are concern if we leave him in the crate during long time he could get dehydrate and suffer a phycological trauma. What can we do????

May 13, 2021

Casper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Edwin, In the long run, crate training, taking pup potty outside once during the night, and getting rid of the pee pads will likely be the easiest way to train. I would start by having pup sleep in the crate at night. If you have a large walk-in closet or master bath off your room, the crate can be in there too and pup not seeing you might help pup make the transition easier. I recommend correcting the crying. Normally, if you can be consistent about ignoring pup's cries when its not time to go potty yet, most puppies simply learn to go back to sleep on their own, and the first two weeks are just hard. They will likely need one potty trip during the night for a while, but they can learn to go right back to sleep after that potty trip, and this phase is temporary. Since it sounds like letting pup cry it out isn't feasible in your home, I would move onto correcting. To correct pup, first, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. When he cries at night or early morning, after you take pup potty and return them to the crate, or pup cries before 3-4 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. Don't give treats at night/morning though - practice during the day proactively to help pup learn that quiet is good, since you don't want to encourage pup to stay awake in the early morning, but to go back to sleep instead. During the day, I would resume the Crate Training or Tethering method for potty training. I would get rid of all pee pads, since they aren't a good long term option for a breed of his size, and continuing to use them can cause confusion, leading to accidents on carpet and rugs. Crate Training and Tethering methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Expect a couple of weeks that are a bit harder, but you should start seeing gradual progress in all those areas. If not, please feel free to check back here and update with how pup is doing and what is and isn't working. Stay consistent! The more consistent you are, the sooner this gets better in the long run. Pup will have to go potty quite often during the day even while crate training, I recommend letting pup get a treat each time they go outside if they want it, so you don't have to worry about dehydration. At night, most dogs normally go without water all night long and are perfectly fine unless there is a medical issue that needs to be addressed by your vet. I am not a vet. Puppies will often drink tons of water any time you let them for the fun of it though, so often water needs to be scheduled anyway at this age. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 14, 2021

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Casper

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Golden Retriever

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11 Weeks

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Question

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Getting issue to sleep and making pee and potting

May 13, 2021

Casper's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Edwin, For the potty training, check out the article I have linked below. I recommend the crate training method, or a combination of the crate training method and tethering method, found in that article. Crate Training and Tethering methods for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside For the sleeping: 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. At this age, pup will probably still need to go potty 1-2 times per night due to a small bladder. If it's been more than 3 hours since pup last went potty and they wake, crying to go outside, take pup potty, then return them to the crate after. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 3 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after being trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 14, 2021


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